Something Old into Something New

I am a Graphic Designer in the Boston area.  As a graphic designer I must always keep learning … and embrace design challenges for print, web or, as in this challenge, manual craft! I have always wanted to learn to reupholster a chair. I found this great channel-back chair with wood trim, probably from the 50′s.  It is comfortable to sit in with its cushioned seat, curved back and side arms. It is a classic and clean design … but needed to be reupholstered. I am taking this opportunity to embrace the challenge. I have enrolled in a class to learn to reupholster this chair. There are about 8 – 10 other students, each with their own chair-challenge, this one is mine.

See the album I created here: Dighton Design’s Google+ Album


Stage 1:

Pull fabric off, remove the tacks and glue the lose joints (after using the mallet as a convincer).  Keep tightly clamped & let dry to be ready for Stage 2.

The Upholstery Experiment, Stage 1


Stage 2:All fabric removed, glue is dry and ready for webbing and burlap, Stage 3.

The Upholstery Experiment, Stage 2


Materials and Tools Needed for this Upholstery Project

These are the list of tools, supplies or materials that I uses for this upholstery experiment.


  •     Measuring tape
  •     Tack and Staple Remover (Tool #121)
  •     Tack claw (Osborne # 202)
  •     Magnetic hammer (Osborne #222)
  •     10″ Upholstery shears (Osborne #684-10)
  •     Ripping tool (Osborne #402)
  •     Curved needles (Osborne #K-3)
  •     Straight-point needles (Osborne # K-5)
  •     Upholstery pins (Osborne #190)
  •     6-oz. Upholstery tacks
  •     Marking chalk (Osborne #88)

Additional Supplies

  •     webbing
  •     burlap
  •     muslin
  •     1” or 4” foam
  •     cushion foam
  •     cotton batting
  •     cambric
  •     Italian Ruby twine – 1 lb. spool
  •     spring-tying twine
  •     spring nails
  •     fabric: 5/32” welt

I got these from JoAnn’s Fabric and New England Upholstery Supply (neupholsterysupply.com).  There are some other stores to buy various materials from here.

The Upholstery Experiment, Material1


Stage 3:

Staple webbing and burlap, prepare for adding cotton in Stage 4.

The Upholstery Experiment, Stage3


Stage 4:

Over the burlap of the arms, cover with cotton, stuff & secure roll for the front to hold the foam cushion in place, arms are ready for muslin in Stage 5.

The Upholstery Experiment, Stage4


Stage 5:

Cover arms with muslin, add cotton to the burlapped seat. The seat is ready to add the foam, in Stage 6.

The Upholstery Experiment, Stage 5


Stage 6:

Staple the foam onto the seat, add more cotton over the stapled area, then the seat is ready for muslin in Stage 7.

The Upholstery Experiment, Stage 6


Stage 7:

Cover the foamed seat and cotton-covered arms with muslin, staple in place and ready for creating the channels in Stage 8.

The Upholstery Experiment, Stage 7


Stage 8:

For creating the channels, cut the fabric (this is the fabric, NOT muslin, I chose a light, soft cotton linen) in tapered angles. These started at 5 inches wide and tapered down to 3 inches wide. Once the material is cut, ready for sewing in Stage 9.

The Upholstery Experiment, Stage 8


Stage 9:

Sewing! For creating the channels, sew the inner material (brown here) and the fabric together. When finished, there will be a fan-shaped piece with channels to fill with cotton in Stage 11. The next stage is 10 when I cover the arms and the seat with the fabric, prior to adding the stuffed channels.

The Upholstery Experiment, Stage 9


Stage 10:

Before stuffing the channels, I am placing the cut the fabric (this is the fabric, NOT muslin, I chose a light, soft cotton linen) to cover the arms and the seat. Placement with tacks to ensure I like the lines of the fabric, then they get stapled into place. For stage 11, stuffing the channels!

The Upholstery Experiment , Stage 10


Stage 11:

Stapling the fabric.

The Upholstery Experiment, Stage 11



Stage 12:

Stuffing the channels!

The Upholstery Experiment, Stage 12


Stage 13:

Tacking then stapling the channel-back to the chair.

The Upholstery Experiment, Stage 13



Stage 14:

Sewing the cording!

The Upholstery Experiment, Stage 14



Final Stage:


The Upholstery Experiment, Stage Final


§ 3 Responses to Upholstery

  • Cassamdra Clarke says:

    Beautiful job. I have two chairs just like this and will be hiring a pro.

  • P says:

    Gorgeous!!! I got channel back couch reupholster and I don’t think they used cotton for the inside because it is sooo hard and stiff. Is that the way it is supposed to be ??? I wanted something durable but not uncomfortable.

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